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The Joy of Love (Amoris Laetitia)

Reflections on The Joy of Love (Amoris Laetitia)

In his 325-paragraph document, Pope Francis provides his prayerful reflections on marriage and the family: their strengths and weaknesses, their call from God and the challenges they face.

Pope Francis recommends that The Joy of Love be read “patiently and carefully”

Each week we read an extract from the Pope's letter and reflect on how it might relate to our family lives.

"In the family, 'three words need to be used. I want to repeat this! Three words: ‘Please’, ‘Thank you’, ‘Sorry’. Three essential words!'”

(Amoris Laetitia 100)

Simple words but not so simple to put into practice. This week raise awareness of the importance of these words in your family relationships and compliment family members when they do use the words.

“To be open to a genuine encounter with others, ‘a kind look’ is essential… [it] helps us to see beyond our own limitations, to be patient and to cooperate with others, despite our differences. Loving-kindness builds bonds, cultivates relationships, creates new networks of integration and knits a firm social fabric… In our families, we must learn to imitate Jesus’ own gentleness in our way of speaking to one another”

(Amoris Laetitia 100).

It can be very difficult to look kindly at a child who is acting out, or at our spouse when he/she tunes out to your chatter. This week, look at your family members and say to yourself, “Jesus is looking at them right now too.” That may help change the way that you see them.

“Love inspires a sincere esteem for every human being and the recognition of his or her own right to happiness. I love this person, and I see him or her with the eyes of God, who gives us everything ‘for our enjoyment’ (1 Tim 6:17). As a result, I feel a deep sense of happiness and peace”

(Amoris Laetitia 96).

This week, compliment members of your family, and try to choose something meaningful/sincere that you may never have said to them before. Think about what it means to see someone with “the eyes of God.”

“True love values the other person’s achievements. It does not see him or her as a threat. It frees us from the sour taste of envy. It recognizes that everyone has different gifts and a unique path in life. So it strives to discover its own road to happiness while allowing others to find theirs”

(Amoris Laetitia 95).

It is always difficult not to compare ourselves to other people, but that inevitably is not fulfilling and does not bring us happiness. This week, reflect upon the unique path that you have been on so far, and entrust yourself to God in confidence. Plan something fun with your family for next weekend so that you can appreciate your families particular gifts and uniqueness.

“Patience takes root when I recognize that other people also have a right to live in this world, just as they are. It does not matter if they hold me back, if they unsettle my plans, or annoy me by the way they act or think, or if they are not everything I want them to be. Love always has an aspect of deep compassion that leads to accepting the other person as part of this world, even when he or she acts differently than I would like”

(Amoris Laetitia 92).

Deep down, if we are being honest, we may expect everyone else to think like we do; or if they don’t, they should. This week, take the time to consciously appreciate one or two things that your spouse, children, or other family members do better than you, and recognize that they put up with your imperfections just as much as you put up with theirs.

“We encounter problems whenever we think that relationships or people ought to be perfect, or when we put ourselves at the centre and expect things to turn out our way. Then everything makes us impatient, everything makes us react aggressively. Unless we cultivate patience, we will always find excuses for responding angrily. We will end up incapable of living together, antisocial, unable to control our impulses, and our families will become battlegrounds”

(Amoris Laetitia 92).

How many times do you find yourself frustrated at the imperfections of others in your family? This week, when something doesn’t go your way (and there will always be something!) tell yourself to be patient and put it in perspective. Will it matter tomorrow?

"… God’s ‘patience’, shown in his mercy towards sinners, is a sign of his real power”

(Amoris Laetitia 91).

This week, be aware of when you are tempted to be angry at your spouse, children, parents, or other relatives. Take a deep breath and remember that your first reaction is not always the most helpful or truest to the love that you have for that person. Also try to consider how your words will be taken before you say them, and whether the time is right to bring something up.

“… Other responses (to the Family Synods) pointed to the effect of severe stress on families, who often seem more caught up with securing their future than with enjoying the present. There is a broader cultural problem, aggravated by fears about steady employment, finances and the future of children.”

(Amoris Laetitia 50)

 

School holidays often provide an opportunity to ‘enjoy the present’ as there is a break from many of the activities and schedule of the busy school term.

Parents who work during these holidays may be able to get home early from work and enjoy family activities. As parents, it is important to find a balance between work/commitments and family time and this is a challenge worth the effort.

"Families who lovingly accept the difficult trial of a child with special needs are greatly to be admired. They render the Church and society an invaluable witness of faithfulness to the gift of life. In these situations, the family can discover, together with the Christian community new approaches, new ways of acting, a different way of understanding and identifying with others, by welcoming and caring for the mystery of the frailty of human life."

(Amoris Laetitia 47)

This week as a family share what life may be like for someone you may know or in your family/school/parish who has a disability or learning difficulty and what you as a family can do to make a difference. You might like to reflect upon how as parents we enable our children to see a person’s abilities rather than disabilities?

"Every family should look to the icon of the Holy Family of Nazareth."

(Amoris Laetitia 30)

The Holy Family is a model for families because whilst the Holy Family was a family with special grace it was also a family with trials and despite their many trials, the family remained faithful, loving and united. ​Every family has particular graces and blessings and every family also has difficulties and crosses. The story of the Holy Family is full of encouragement for those who struggle in life – especially in their family life – and it enables us to see that true riches lie within our relationships and not in our abilities and possessions.

This week pray to the Holy Family asking them to help your family persevere through their trials and to thank God for all the graces and blessings your family enjoys. ​

"Christ proposed as the distinctive sign of his disciples the law of love and

the gift of self for others"

(Amoris Laetitia 27)

In your particular family setting consider the local, national or international news of the week. Include in your family prayer the refugee, the homeless, the families who have lost a loved one, poor families

In what other ways can your family be mindful of the needs of others?

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